Thailand aiming to grow its exports of organic goods
Trading on the nation’s strength in agriculture and food production, the Ministry of Commerce has set a goal of increasing exports of organic products by 10 percent a year over the next several years to meet increasing demand in developed markets for healthy, organic food while establishing Thailand as Asia’s center for the processing of organic products.
“Organic products have experienced strong growth in recent years in terms of both the domestic and export markets, thanks to consumers’ rising health consciousness and environmental awareness,” said Minister of Commerce Apiradi Tantraporn. “Given Thailand’s variety of products and quality, the country has a good opportunity to develop into the production center of organic products for Asia.”
Thailand’s exports of organic goods average about $115 million a year, according to the Ministry of Commerce, 68 percent of which is rice, while vegetables account for 12 percent and fruits 8 percent. The global market for organic goods has been estimated at about $65 billion a year. Most consumers of organic products are in developed countries. The ministry believes the global organic market will continue to grow, providing opportunities for Thailand’s agricultural sector if more farmers and food processors can meet standards for organic products required by developed countries.
Both the government and private sector have been taking steps to make that happen. The Thai Organic Traders Association forged an agreement with the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) so that the Association can license the use of the IFOAM global organic mark for growers and traders based in Thailand. That helps in marketing organic products to consumers in developed countries.
The Ministry of Commerce also hosted the annual Organic & Natural Expo 2016, Thailand’s largest trade show for the organic and natural products industry, at Queen Sirikit National Convention Center. The event, which ran from July 28-31, builds networks among manufacturers and entrepreneurs. About 228 exhibitors displayed at the Expo, which was attended by over 40,000 people. The ministry said it expected nearly $1 million in sales would take place at the event.
The Commerce Ministry is also in the process of launching an organic village program. Five provinces have been chosen to pilot the program: Phetchabun, Surin, Chiang Rai, Nan and Yasothon. The program has already begun in Phetchabun, Chiang Rai and Surin.
Thailand has 84,000 acres of plantation area for organic produce, with 9,200 farmers producing a combined 80,000 tons of organic products a year.